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Toy Run kickstarts gift-giving season

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The rumble of more than 300 motorcycles seemed to open up the skies on Saturday morning as hundreds of bikers, friends, family and community members rallied in the name of spreading some holiday spirit.

Hardly a scowl could be detected as bikers and their family and friends caravanned down Table Rock Road from the Touvelle Tavern to the Eagles Lodge.

Participants marked the 39th Annual Southern Oregon Toy Run as they have in years past, with stuffed animals, superheroes and other toys strapped to their bikes or their backs.

Some donned festive holiday sweaters or hats. All had a Santa-like enthusiasm for their mission at hand.

The effort, sponsored by Thunderstruck Custom Bikes of Medford, is one of dozens of efforts in the Rogue Valley to provide a little extra help at Christmas time for struggling families.

Travis Linebaugh of Thunderstruck Custom Bikes, who helps coordinate the event with shop owner Mark Daley, said the event is supported heavily by the local community.

“We almost always have well over 300 bikes, it’s just a lot of fun and they always really show up to support the kids,” he said.

“It’s a lot of fun to be part of it and, of course, it’s for a good cause.”

While the toy run was hosted Saturday morning, Thunderstruck Custom Bikes will accept toy donations for another week at their Medford location, 3670 Dodson Drive.

The bike shop is adjacent to private property so call 541-779-0430 to arrange a drop off. With donations most often made for school age children, coordinators encourage toys for toddlers, pre-teens and teens.

In addition to the toy run put, a sleigh-full of Rogue Valley charities who provide services to low income and homeless families in the community are often burning the midnight oil, as early as late November, to collect toys and other supplies to bring some holiday spirit to those most in need.

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots in Jackson County, which distributed more than 24,000 toys in 2018, hosted a long list of donation boxes at stores and service providers around the Rogue Valley again this year.

The organization, provided under the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after being founded by a Major Bill Hendricks in 1947, utilizes drop sites at area fire stations, banks, stores and other venues to collect toys for needy children in comm communities around the country.

To help local kids, visit the website at jackson-county-or.toysfortots.org and donate towards toy purchases. To drop off a new toy in person, visit online and choose drop off location.

The organization express extra need for kids age 10-17.

For details on the Toys For Tots effort in Jackson County, e-mail coordinators Kira Zavala and Melissa Shreeve at jacksoncountyt4t@gmail.com.

Lightly Loved Toys

A local effort founded almost two decades ago by mother and community volunteer Kathy Greager, Lightly Loved Toys in Medford is a grassroots effort to provide toys and stocking stuffers to the children of families in need.

Recipients receive gift items in addition to a bag of supplies for parents to put in stockings. Like most local toy drive efforts, Greager said middle school and high school age “kids” are most often overlooked and would appreciate teen friendly donations and sports equipment donations.

The organization served nearly 1,500 kids last year, said Greager, who is selling tie-dye items on her Facebook page to raise money for toy purchases.

Monetary donations can be made through the New Song church website, newsongmedford.com/giving,which hosts the Lightly Loved Toys organization.

Cash and toy donations can also be facilitated through the Lightly Loved Toys Facebook page, facebook.com/santaliveshere.

Donations of new or gently used toys are also accepted on Cherry Lane during the holiday season at the infamous Christmas lights display.

Salvation Army

Serving more than 2,000 kids (400 families) this year, the Jackson County leg of the Salvation Army teamed up with WalMart stores in November to collected needed toys and holiday goodies but could use more toy donations to serve all the families who have expressed a need.

Drop off toys to the Salvation Army, Medford Citadel Corps, 304 Beatty Street in Medford by Monday, December 16.

Online donations, at jacksoncounty.salvationarmy.org, will also help the organization purchase needed items that are not donated in time. For more information, call 541-773-6965.

Compassion Highway Project

A regional homeless outreach project serving thousands of adults and children, Compassion Highway Project sees an increase in need during the holiday — and winter — season.

Donations of necessities – gloves, beanies, scarves, handwarmers and chap stick will make holidays a little brighter for area homeless.

Homeless families will receive stockings and – if donations permit – small stocking-appropriate toys for children of all ages.

To donate towards purchase of holiday items, visit online, compassionhighwayproject.org. To facilitate donation of specific items, contact Compassion Highway, 541-646-8004.

Community Toy Drive

The annual News10 Community Toy Drive continues, with donations being accepted through Dec. 16. Those wanting to contribute by stopping by KTVL at its new location, inside the Mail Tribune building at 111 North Fir Street in Medford, and leaving gifts in the box in the main lobby. For more information about the toy drive, see ktvl.com.

While you’re there, donations are also being accepted for the annual ACCESS Food Drive, with a barrel also in the Mail Tribune lobby available to hold donations.

More than 300 bikes and plenty of toys rolled through Medford Saturday during the 39th annual Southern Oregon Toy Run. Mail Tribune video / Andy AtkinsonThumbnail
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRiders with toys and presents head down Table Rock Rd Saturday afternoon during the 39th annual Southern Oregon Toy Run.